Blizzard is now allowing World of Warcraft players the option to exchange premium Tokens for $15 of Battle.net Balance to purchase other Blizzard products with.
Blizzard has a complicated, but increasingly successful, recent history regarding real-money transactions within its games. While the Diablo III real-money auction house proved to be a failed experiment, more traditional microtransactions including Hearthstone‘s premium card packs and Overwatch‘s Loot Box system are resoundingly successful. World of Warcraft‘s Token system is also successful, allowing players to exchange a $20 Token for in-game gold, or gold for a monthly subscription, through a marketplace system. Now Blizzard’s ready to take the next step.
Starting today, Blizzard will allow World of Warcraft players to also exchange Tokens purchased with in-game gold for $15 of Battle.net Balance. Battle.net is Blizzard’s digital platform and storefront for each of its games. The Battle.net Balance is a currency system in place for users to exchange cash or gift cards, which can then be used in any of Blizzard’s games which feature microtransactions. The WoW Token exchange is the first system to allow players to swap an in-game currency for an out-of-game currency.
What the system effectively does is allow World of Warcraft players to turn their hard-earned gold into Overwatch Loot Boxes, Hearthstone cards, or copies of games from Blizzard’s library. It’s a clear method of turning in-game currency into real-world cash, similar to how the Diablo III auction house worked — though in this case, the cash is limited to Blizzard products. While there’s little to no opportunity for gold farmers to start their own business, for hardcore World of Warcraft players with a lot of gold sitting in the bank this is a very rewarding decision by Blizzard.
In these types of “real-money” marketplaces, there’s always a significant effect on the game’s economy itself. This is where Blizzard’s system shows its brilliance. Since all of the transactions are designed around the purchase and sale of Tokens, no gold gets destroyed in the process. When a person buys a Token with real money, it is the Token itself and not the gold that serves as a middle-man, and gets destroyed upon exchange.
That’s not to say that World of Warcraft‘s economy won’t be thrown into turmoil, however. The price of Tokens is going to skyrocket, and would have already if it isn’t in extreme scarcity after a surge of sales post-announcement. All tokens sold out within an hour, for reference, and the Token exchange rate has shifted from 60,000 gold pre-announcement to 70,000 gold in the United States. A betting man would say that 100,000 gold Tokens might arrive within a matter of days.
To describe Blizzard’s decision as wildly successful would be an understatement. Not only does Blizzard make a profit on all Tokens sold, as they cost $20 and exchange for either a $15 subscription or $15 in Blizzard bucks, but the rest of those $15 just gets spent on more digital goods. It’s great for players too, though. Now World of Warcraft players can use their hard-earned gold in other games they enjoy. Or players can get a lot more gold value by buying Tokens in the first place. More options for players is always better.
World of Warcraft and its recent Legion expansion is currently available on PC. The Token changes are already implemented in-game, though Tokens are currently in short supply.